How to use Microsoft Copilot in Excel

Managing huge data sets and organising multiple spreadsheets is often time-consuming and tedious. Microsoft Copilot offers teams a powerful tool for streamlining data analysis and range of other tasks within Excel - we show you how.
06.06.24 Charles Griffiths

Time is a precious commodity, and Excel is a programme that can take away hours in your day. Microsoft Copilot is your personal assistant in Excel, designed to make your work life easier. Let’s explore how Copilot can help you navigate through data with ease.

How does Copilot enhance your efficiency?

Copilot works to enhance productivity and creativity by harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) through a technology classified as a large language data model (LLM) – Copilot uses the latest ChatGPT-4 and DALL-E 3 image generator. LLMs are distinguished by their extensive training on substantial volumes of text data, enabling them to comprehend and generate language similar to human expression. Copilot manages routine tasks, allowing you to concentrate on the more creative side of your work.

Analysing Data in Excel with Microsoft Copilot

Imagine you have a spreadsheet filled with sales figures divided by account and managed by different account managers. You notice some numbers are up, while others have taken a dive. You’re curious about the changes but don’t have the time to calculate them manually. This is where Copilot steps in.

Adding Insight with a Click

With Copilot, you can ask it to insert a new column right after your totals that shows the percentage change from one quarter to the next. But what if you have thousands of rows of data? Let’s look at how to highlight this, with Copilot.

Highlighting Key Areas

Let’s say your company aims for a 10% margin. Anything below that is a red flag. Copilot can highlight these for you in red, so you know exactly which accounts need your attention. It’s like having a smart assistant who not only does the math but also points out potential issues. Or you could ask it to highlight all cells in a colour scale, showing the biggest growth in green and the biggest deficit in red. Which is using conditional formatting, but with Copilot you don’t need to know how to implement this feature.

Understanding Your Data

Copilot is not just about calculations. It helps you understand your data better. If an account has increased by 1,000%, you’ll want to know why. Is it a new strategy that’s working wonders? Copilot helps you dig deeper, so you can replicate success across your business.

What can Copilot do in Excel?

Analysing Sales Data is just one way Copilot can assist, but there are many other features you can utilise this AI for in Excel:

  • Data Analysis: Copilot can perform complex data analysis, helping you to identify trends, patterns, and outliers in your data.
  • Forecasting: It can use historical data to forecast future sales, expenses, or any other metric important to your business.
  • Report Generation: Copilot can help you generate comprehensive reports, complete with charts and graphs, to visualise your data effectively.
  • Data Entry Automation: It can automate repetitive data entry tasks, saving you time and reducing the risk of human error.
  • Pivot Tables: Copilot can create pivot tables for you, allowing you to summarise large datasets and gain insights quickly.
  • Data Cleaning: It can assist in cleaning up your data by finding and correcting errors or inconsistencies.
  • Custom Functions: Copilot can create custom functions tailored to your specific needs, enhancing your data manipulation capabilities.

In essence, Copilot acts as your personal data analyst, automating tasks and providing insights that enable you to make informed business decisions swiftly. No matter your expertise in Excel, Copilot adapts to your level of understanding, ensuring you get the most out of your data.

Copilot in Excel GIF

Examples of Copilot Prompts for Excel

Data Analysis
“Analyse the sales data and identify any significant trends over the last four quarters.”

Forecasting
“Based on the past year’s sales data, can you forecast the sales figures for the next quarter?”

Report Generation
“Generate a report summarising the total sales by product category with visual charts.”

Data Entry Automation
“Please enter the new customer data into the database and ensure all fields are correctly filled.”

Pivot Tables
“Create a pivot table to show the total sales by region and by account manager.”

Data Cleaning
“Can you check the dataset for any duplicate entries and remove them?”

Custom Functions
“I need a custom function that calculates the weighted average of these sales figures based on the provided weights.”

Why is Copilot for Excel in Preview mode?

Currently, in preview, Copilot is like a glimpse into the future of Excel. It’s not the final version yet, but it’s getting there. Microsoft will be launching the full version to the public very soon.

In conclusion, Microsoft Copilot in Excel is your go-to tool for quick, insightful analysis of sales data. It’s like having an Excel expert right by your side (we all have an Excel go-to in our business already, but this is your personal assistant, on hand 24/7).

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